Aviation (including aerospace and defence) in India

Gagrats

Aviation is one of the primary verticals for Gagrats, thus the firm has a market-leading reputation under the leadership of Rustam Gagrat. The financing aspect of the firm handles all manner of transactions in the sector including aircraft financing, aircraft acquisitions, cross-border leasing, sale and leaseback arrangements and equipment leasing. Publicly listed domestic carriers, international airlines and aviation authorities all approach the firm for advice on aviation laws and regulations for their operations throughout India.

Practice head(s):

Rustam Gagrat; Haseena Tapia Shahpurwalla; Rajnni Kuttyy; Uma Nagarajan; Khanjan Jasani

Key clients

Jet Airways

Jet Lit

International Air Transport Association

Neptunus Power Plant Services

Bravia Capital Hong Kong

Larsen & Tourbo Infra Investment Partners Advisory

Citrus Air

Jetair

Work highlights

  • Assisted an international airline with the sale and leaseback of several new B737-8 Max aircraft.
  • Advising the International Air Transport Associated on aviation laws, regulations and litigation matters in India.
  • Advised an international air carrier on the leasing of over 75 new B737-8 Max Aircraft.
  • Advised an international airline on slot lease and slot exchange issues.
  • Assisting a private company with the establishment of a low-cost carrier, advising on regulatory requirements and procedural formalities.

Kochhar & Co.

Kochhar & Co.’s full-service aviation, aerospace and defence offering enjoys a healthy list of mandates from a roster of international airlines, trade associations (namely IATA) and military vehicle manufacturers. Practice heads Piyush Gupta and Rohit Kochhar handle defence procurement operations, collaboration agreements with government bodies, corporate restructurings, aircraft financing and acquisitions and aircraft registration and repossession exercises. The team regularly handles contentious issues and disputes before the AERAAT and upper courts pertaining to commercial contracts, passenger claims, cargo handling and employment issues.

Practice head(s):

Rohit Kochhar; Piyush Gupta

Key clients

Singapore Airlines Limited

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Alion Sciences

Embraer

Bell Helicopter

Textron Aviation

Textron Group/Textron Systems

Air France

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

British Airways

Work highlights

  • Providing wide-scope legal engagement to Singapore Airlines including contract review and documentation, policy advice, vendor and government agency  negotiations and advice on corporate restructurings.
  • Represented IATA before the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal challenging a tariff order passed by the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority.
  • Lead counsel to aircraft manufacturer Embraer, recently providing advice on extremely high-value aircraft leasing and purchasing transactions with two leading Indian companies.
  • Regularly representing Air France on cargo-related litigation and disputes.
  • Successfully represented IATA in a suit for declaration and permanent injunction filed against it by the IATA Agents Association of India.

Link Legal - India Law Services

The market-leading aviation practice at Link Legal - India Law Services covers the full range of instructions in the sector, with professionals such as Atul Sharma and Anand Srivastava well-praised by clients and peers. On the transactional side, the firm recently handled very high-value aircraft and parts acquisitions for domestic airline clients. The majority of private airport operators are also counted as clients; typical instructions include large-scale airport privatisation exercises, development projects and operational support from a regulatory perspective. Abhishek Sharma handles aviation disputes such as share-transfer arbitration and cartelisation investigations.

Practice head(s):

Atul Sharma; Anand Srivastava

Other key lawyers:

Abhishek Sharma

Key clients

SpiceJet

Global Infrastructure Partners

GMR Hyderabad International Airport

National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust

GMR Goa International Airport

Bangalore International Airport

Navi Mumbai International Airport

Delhi Aviation Fuel Facility Private Limited

Delhi International Airport Limited

IDBI Capital Markets & Securities

YES Securities

Work highlights

  • Defended SpiceJet and its promoter Ajay Singh in the highly publicised share-transfer arbitration initiated by KAL Airways.
  • Advised SpiceJet on the acquisition of 205 Boeing aircraft valued at $22bn.
  • Advising Global Infrastructure Partners on the privatisation bid for six airports in India.
  • Guiding GMR Hyderabad International Airport through the rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of the Bidar Airport.
  • Advising National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust on all legal and regulatory aspects relating to the Dholera Airport Project.

RNClegal

International aircraft-leasing companies from regions including the US, Middle East and Asia-Pacific comprise the bulk of RNClegal’s aviation clients. Stand-out names such as Ravi Nath and principle associate Neha Singh are routinely instructed to handle large-scale aircraft-leasing transactions to Indian operators, advising on the transaction structure, regulatory compliance and tax implications. Additionally, the strong bench of the firm handles disputes in the sector, often arising from loan defaults and repossession refusals, typically with a cross-border element.

Practice head(s):

Ajay Kumar

Other key lawyers:

Ravi Nath; Neha Singh

Key clients

Export Import Bank of China

Engine Lease Finance Corporation

Babcock & Brown

Aircastle

Macquarie

HKAC

BoCA

Airbus

Boeing

DVB

Alafco

Avolon

Work highlights

  • Representing BBAM Aircraft Leasing & Management in a dispute concerning an Indian aircraft operator resisting repossession of five aircraft following a default on the lease.

AZB & Partners

Aircraft leasing and financing comprises the bulk of received instructions for AZB & Partners' aviation practice, with the team typically acting for lessors involved in the transactions. Recent defence work involved advising a US weapons and aircraft manufacturer on Indian defence procurement policy. The team also handles insolvency-related matters including repossessions, leasing restructuring, deregistration and grounding, as well as the associated contentious matters that arise. Advice on procuring operators’ permits and general regulatory assistance is also provided. Anand Shah now leads the practice owing to the departure of previously ranked practice head Ashwin Ramanathan.

Practice head(s):

Anand Shah

Key clients

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

Pembroke (Standard Chartered’s aviation arm)

GE Capital Aviation Services

HSBC

CMB International Leasing

Shannon Engine Support

SDH Wings International Leasing

Minsheng Leasing

Bank of America Leasing

Tata SIA Airlines (Air Vistara)

Work highlights

  • Assisted Pembroke (Standard Chartered’s aviation arm) with the novation and financing of the lease of an Airbus a320-200 between interested parties.
  • Advising Air Vistara on the regulatory approvals required for the structuring of certain Boeing and Airbus a320 family aircraft purchases.
  • Acted as Indian counsel to HSBC for the financing of six aircraft to Spice Jet and Air India Express.
  • Assisted Pembroke Capital Advisors with the sale and leaseback of five Airbus A320Neo aircraft and the lease extensions of four additional aircraft to Indigo.
  • Acted as Indian law counsel to Pembroke in connection with leasing and financing of one Airbus A320Neo aircraft to Go Air.

L&L Partners Law Offices

L&L Partners Law Offices' aviation practice has a number of key airport clients on its roster, for which the team handles a range of financing mandates including development PPP's and term loan facility lending transactions. The firm has a significant presence in the military aviation sector, handling industry-leading aerospace manufacture and supply joint ventures for global names. Professionals such as Aniket Sengupta and Alina Arora also provide expertise with drafting maintenance and vendor contracts, aircraft acquisitions and CCI investigations.

Practice head(s):

Rajiv Luthra; Mohit Saraf; Aniket Sengupta; Alina Arora; Vaibhav Kakkar

Key clients

Lufthansa German Airlines

Sikorsky International Operations

YES Bank

Austrian Airlines

Bangalore International Airport

JSW Steel

Work highlights

  • Acted as borrower counsel for Kempegowda International Airport’s $279m term loan facility forwarded by the State Bank of India.
  • Acted for Jet Airways in the price-hiking dispute before the CCI.
  • Acted for Bangalore International Airport’s $289m term loan facility forwarded by the State Bank of India.

Trilegal

Trilegal has a strong foothold in the defence industry, with Yogesh Singh and Delano Furtado offering procurement and licensing advice to a number of key manufacturers in the sector. The team provides in-depth advice to various aircraft operators and manufacturers regarding aircraft financing, sector-specific competition and labour law compliance and CBI investigations. The Ministry of Civil Aviation also consults the firm on legislative changes.

Practice head(s):

Yogesh Singh; Delano Furtado; Kosturi Ghosh

Key clients

TATA SIA Airlines

InterGlobe Aviation Limited (IndiGo)

Embraer

Mistral Solutions

Leonardo Spa

AgustaWestland International

Boeing

Singapore Airlines

Ministry Of Civil Aviation

Work highlights

  • Retained by TATA SIA Airlines to advise on all legal requirements for its operations in India, ranging from service provider agreements and overseas direct investments to pilot and cabin crew disputes.
  • Advising Embraer on investigations initiated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate regarding the sale of  defence aircraft to the Government of India.
  • Representing AgustaWestland International in arbitration proceedings against the MoD challenging the termination of the supply contract for 12 W-101 VVIP helicopters.
  • Provided Boeing with regulatory guidance concerning aircraft financing and leasing.

Advaita Legal

The aviation practice at Advaita Legal enjoys niche instructions from airport operators, namely assisting with ground handling contracts, real estate development projects and O&M agreements. Monali Dutta is also providing transactional advice to a number of aviation regulatory bodies concerning the ‘NextGen Airports for Bharat Nirman’ initiative.

Practice head(s):

Monali Dutta

Work highlights

  • Advised the Airport Authority of India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation on the transaction structure for the proposed NABH Nirman airport development initiative.
  • Assisted an airlines tech company with its joint venture with a European company.
  • Assisted an aviation infrastructure company with the provision of its ground handling business.
  • Provided assistance to a government entity in relation to the transfer of assets and a concession agreement for providing cargo services.
  • Assisted an airport operator with the selection of a ground handling agency.

Advaya Legal

Advaya Legal’s aviation clients include airports, airlines, ground-handling companies and chartering companies. The firm advises on aircraft leasing transactions, aircraft and parts purchases, bidding processes for airport developments and disputes before the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority.

Ikigai Law

Headed by Anirudh Rastogi, Ikigai Law has a foothold in a number of emerging fields in the aerospace sector, particularly unmanned aviation (including the nascent domestic manufacturing market), private spacecraft missions, satellite manufacturing and app-based aviation aggregation services. A significant aspect of the practice involves advising on new fields of regulation, often resulting precedent-setting policy developments. The team also advises ground handling companies on drafting business agreements with leading airlines and airports across the country.

Practice head(s):

Anirudh Rastogi

Key clients

Rocketeers – Rocketeers Research Institute

Specific Impluse Technologies

Janus Aviation

Team Indus – Axiom Research Labs

Saraswati Dynamics

Aarav Unmanned Systems

Work highlights

  • Providing unprecedented legal assistance with Team Indus’ spacecraft launch contract to launch its privately funded spaceflight and lunar landing programme.
  • Advised Rocketeers Research Institute on regulatory and licensing issues for the manufacture and use of propulsion material for rocketry.
  • Advised Janus Aviation — a leading aviation ground handling company —  in drafting and negotiating business agreements with various airports and airlines.
  • Providing regulatory assistance and representation before the Civil Aviation Authority to autonomous drone manufacturer Aarav Unmanned Systems.
  • Advising Saraswati Dunamics — a manufacturer of environmental and vibration testing equipment for the aviation and defence sectors — on commercial and regulatory matters, including high-value customer contracts.

J Sagar Associates

Regular non-contentious mandates for J Sagar Associates’ aviation practice include airport sales and minority-stake acquisitions, airport privatisation proposals, IPOs and cargo-handling issues. The firm acts on unique contentious issues in the sector such as financing defaults, royalties for on-board services and excess baggage charge ceilings imposed by the Director General. The firm also has niche expertise in matters involving the determination of aeronautical tariffs.

LexCounsel

LexCounsel is present in the defence procurement space, having handled the review, negotiation and execution of import agreements for clients in the unmanned aircraft and aerospace manufacturing industries. The firm also has experience with negotiating maintenance contracts for international aircraft manufacturers.

Work highlights

  • Advised Planet Sigma Embedded Systems the the review, negotiation and execution of the agreements for (a) import of drones from South African manufacturer for conducting field trials in India and (b) import of detection tracking and neutralisation system of unmanned aerial vehicles from a Poland based manufacturer.

PDS Legal

PDS Legal has gained a number of key airline operators to its client list, for which practice head Vihang Virkar handles a suite of instructions including aircraft and engine financing, commercial leasing, MRO transactions and commercial aviation contracts. General regulatory advice is also provided.

Practice head(s):

Vihang Virkar

Key clients

Go Airlines (India) Ltd

Babcock & Brown Air Funding

Jazeera Airways Company

Air France

Bhutan Airlines

Alafco

Natixis

Work highlights

  • Assisted GoAir with a $100m sale and leaseback deal with Pembroke Aircraft for two Airbus A320Neo aircraft.
  • Handled GoAir’s $200m sale and leaseback deal with Jackson Square Aviation for four Airbus A320Neo aircraft.
  • Advised GoAir on a $45m financing arrangement with CDB Aviation Lease Financing for an Airbus A320-200Neo aircraft.
  • Assisted Jazeera Airways with a $40m refinancing arrangement forwarded by Avolon Aerospace for an aircraft.
  • Represented Babcock & Brown Air Funding in $15m of claims against Kingfisher Airlines and United Breweries.

ALMT Legal

Founding partner Sameer Tapia handles aviation-related matters for ALMT Legal. A significant aspect of the practice involves handling high-value cargo claims for international airline companies. The firm also cites experience with aircraft sale and leasing transactions and registration and deregistration mandates.

Practice head(s):

Sameer Tapia

BRUS CHAMBERS, Advocates & Solicitors

BRUS CHAMBERS, Advocates & Solicitors has significantly expanded its aviation practice and now houses a solid list of international airlines and aircraft leasing companies to its client roster. The majority of instructions concern aircraft leasing arrangements, Warsaw convention compliance and business contract drafting. The firm is also handling a suite of deregistration and recall of aircraft exercises through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Practice head(s):

Suhail Farooqui; Pritish Das

Key clients

Air India

Kenya Airways

Dana Airlines

Delta Airlines

Crolly Aviation

Mardal Aviation

Allenwood Aircraft Leasing

Dungarvan Aircraft Leasing

Elphin Aircraft Leasing

Carlow Aircraft Leasing

Ballyhaunis Aircraft Leasing

MC Aviation Partners

Avolon

GE Capital Aviation Services

Air Zimbabwe

Tunis Air

Egypt Air

Work highlights

  • Advising Crolly Aviation (and a long list of others) on the deregistration and recall of aircraft from Jet Airways through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
  • Advising a number of clients — such as Dana Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air India and Air Zimbabwe — in their aircraft leasing arrangements, Warsaw convention compliance, due diligence and contract redrafting.

Jafa & Javali

The team at Jafa & Javali handles aircraft leasing arrangements for domestic clients as well as relevant disputes which may arise. The firm can also assist with commercial transactions in the aviation sector.

Practice head(s):

Vikrant Singh Jafa; Kirit S. Javali; Mana Imtiyangla

Work highlights

  • Advising Himachal Helicopter Skiing on leasing arrangements  for the hire on helicopters, as well as visa arrangements for pilots and foreign engineers.

Tyabji Dayabhai

Tyabji Dayabhai in known for assisting with aircraft transactions such as leasing (including sale and leaseback deals) and aircraft parts purchases, as well as contentious issues involving deregistration and repossession of aircraft.

Wadia Ghandy & Co

Wadia Ghandy & Co reputable litigation practice is well-placed to handle aviation disputes as they arise, while the firm also provides expertise in regulatory, contractual, financing and refinancing matters.